Meralgia paresthetica is a disorder that causes tingling sensation and numbness in the thigh. It is actually caused by nerve compression that cuts-off the sensation to the area of the thigh region. It can occur due to obesity or wearing tight clothing or due to local injury and even during pregnancy. This condition can be treated using conservative methods and in severe cases by medications. The other name for meralgia paresthetica is femoral (cutaneous) nerve syndrome.
This condition can cause tingling sensation or sudden numbness on the outer part of the thigh region. For some people it is felt as burning pain on the skin surface of the thigh portion. The symptoms are mild to moderate and it may increase when the person is standing or walking.
Meralgia paresthetica is caused by increased pressure on the thigh region due to obesity, enlargement of belly, or by pregnancy. Sudden tingling occurs when the femoral cutaneous nerve gets compressed due to excess of pressure. This nerve is actually a sensory nerve that passes through the groin but during such condition the nerve gets trapped or compressed causing burning pain on the thigh. Often, the nerve gets trapped in the groin under the inguinal ligament from the abdomen to the upper thigh portion.
Wearing a tight belt, tight clothing, and tight pants is the common cause for this condition. The same feeling or numbness also occurs for some pregnant women when the increasing belly exerts pressure on the groin. Meralgia paresthetica also occurs when the tissue of the inguinal ligament gets scarred due to sudden injury. In some cases prolonged diabetes and motorcar accident (if the seat belt gets pressed to the body) can also cause meralgia paresthetica.
Who are at risk?
People who are obese, people who are diabetic for prolonged period, and people who have the habit of wearing tight clothing are prone to develop this condition. Pregnant women can also experience tingling pain in the thigh region.
No tests are necessary to diagnose meralgia paresthetica. Your doctor will often examine the affected portion of the groin and assess the intensity of the pain you experience. For some people imaging tests like X-ray, nerve conduction test and electromyography is done to detect nerve compression.
For mild to moderate pain it is enough if you use any of the conservative measure. You can loosen the clothing in the abdomen region or take pain relieving medications like Ibuprofen or Tylenol to get relief from the symptoms. Your doctor will examine the area physically to find out the underlying cause of the pain. He may give you a shot of cortisone injection if the nerve pain is severe.
Medications like gabapentin or Dilantin or Lyrica is also prescribed to get relief from neuropathic pain. Some of these drugs may produce side effects like nausea, vomiting, and constipation. You need to consult your doctor before taking any medication. In rare cases, surgery is done to release the nerve compression.